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What Is Kwanzaa? Day Five: Celebrating Nia
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Happy Nia! When I hear the word Nia, I think of celebrated actress Nia Long. I think it is simply a beautifully name, but I wonder how many have stopped to consider its meaning. On the fifth day, Kwanzaa focuses on the principle of Nia, or purpose. The focus is actually on nation building, which requires that African Americans have a united goal to build communities in an effort to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

This can become difficult with the number of African Americans who live in either urban or suburban areas. Challenges can be found with both living situations. About five years ago, my family moved from an urban area to a more suburban area and I began the process of commuting. When we lived in a duplex, the population was incredibly compact and it often seemed that so many people were pressing on us at all sides. We often had neighbors who played loud music or cars would have the “boomin’ systems”, many people smoked outdoors, and there always seemed to be a siren of some sort whirling down the street. With so much going on, it was very hard to build any personal relationships. Yet, as I recall, I did manage.

One day I did decide to extend myself and have a Girl Day for some of my younger cousins and girls in the neighborhood. That one act of kindness gave me a genuine opportunity to get to know some of the young ladies my area. Sometimes these girls were so bored or in need of attention that for quite some time after the party, they would volunteer to come and help me wash dishes or organize my house! I used those opportunities to get to know these young ladies and build deeper relationships with them. However, sometimes my heart would ache because I never had the privilege of meeting their mothers or fathers and would often wonder if anyone even knew that they were in my home.

It was always an amazing opportunity for me to be able to mentor them and I was awed that they would even be willing to take on the principles of Kujichagulia and help me do my own housework in exchange for the simple opportunity to talk with someone who cared.

Since we have moved to a more suburban area, I have found that I have had to make some changes of which I was not initially aware. I absolutely adore being able to see the stars at night and to hear complete silence when I go to sleep. Yet, I do miss being able to wave at my young friends or get a surprise visit and another wonderful opportunity to mentor. In terms of nation building, I feel that if we do not afford ourselves opportunities to know each other, this area in terms of Nia will be impossible. There is so much for us to learn from the African dynasties, such as Kush. However, I think in order to build great nations, we must first consider doing so one person at a time.


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